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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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An Office Culture Crises: How To Bolster Remote Workers’ Morale

 

We are so deep into uncharted territory that it sometimes feels like the beginning of an entirely new era. Don’t get us wrong; we too sit here in horror and disbelief every time we contemplate the situation we are all in. Even more frightening is the prospect of a post-2020 economy. There are a few measures and tools we can use to try and mitigate the fear and uncertainty amongst members of our organisation, but it is hard to predict the long term efficacy of novel methodologies.

Advice from someone with CPI certification can serve as a necessary precaution when facing the heightened emotions and severe strain imposed by both the pandemic and the lockdowns it has left in its wake. You will, however, need some additional tactics, and this seems to be the aspect of operating in the unknown that strikes the most fear and discomfort into business owners and managers.

It is not an unreasonable fear, mind you. The fundamentals of business are all rooted in the foundation of the protocol; based on historically similar events and scenarios. Unfortunately, the last plague that humanity faced was during the mid-eighteen hundreds, predating anything like our current economy. We have no source to inform us, and thus must forge the path forward ourselves.

 

Virtual Offices

Coming back to the issues of staff morale and office culture, it is perhaps now for the first time; we have the opportunity to gauge just how integral these factors are to a successful enterprise. Seeing the fallout surrounding work from home situations implemented without the necessary considerations for the mental state of the team as a whole.

 

Before you can devise a large scale solution to the problem, it is time first to take stock of the structure and component divisions that comprise your operations. You should visualise something as close to a physical layout of essential interoffice functions. This is very much an exercise to create a visual representation of your company as though you are placing individual employees and divisions into various proximities in a virtual office space. This step already gives some measure of insight on how to proceed.

 

Creating Subsets Of ‘Teams’

With a clear mental picture of how staff need to interact based on your virtual office schematic, it is time to create practical ways in which to facilitate communication. This process is not the same as project management, which we will get to. This measure is to connect staff and encourage communication. Ideally, one would use an RSS chat client, such as the chat features on Skype.

 

Do mind not implementing the use of a mobile phone app; it should be a regulated platform on the business’ hardware, be that laptop or PCs. Now, this is where we have to get a bit creative and throw traditional rules to the wind.

 

While such channels need to be moderated, of course, they cannot discourage some level of casual chatting. Remember that the goal here is to make staff members feel that they are still part of the same team. The small companies that are implementing similar tactics are seeing some positive results, the metric for its success being continued interpersonal professional relationships.

 

A Digital Workflow

An underappreciated aspect of team building and morale is the simple sense of achievement one gets from being a productive member of a team. When members of a team can measure their productivity, the psychological payoff serves as an undeniable reinforcement tactic. You will again make use of your virtual office schematic, but this time you will be setting up a digital project management solution.

 

There are many options but honestly, having used them all over the years, we can safely suggest Trello. A single article is inadequate to even touch on the functions it offers, and it is mostly free for use, except for premium plugins. In a nutshell, Trello is like a digital whiteboard on which you can assign and track individual, team and company-wide progress on absolutely any project. This measure goes far in reviving and reinforcing the sense of being part of a team and implementing skills to better productivity.

Honourable Mentions

There are a few other ideas we would be remiss not to include. Frequent team video conferences are a great way to get everyone back on the same page while reaffirming the importance of the team as a whole. Periodic company-wide status reports can be emailed to staff, with positive feedback regarding the group as a whole. Have your marketing team-work on this as an additional project, adequately designed and actioned; the more professional, the better. Think almost of it as an internal newsreel.

 

Finally, and this does depend on your managerial style, try to have as many ones on one video calls with employees as possible. The nature of these should be an informal ‘checking in’ sort of thing, to ensure that everyone feels valued individually as well as in their respective teams.

 

The Human Element

Another status quo that may no longer harbour any relevance, consideration for the human condition and experiences we are all facing outside of work is not as simple to designate as unprofessional anymore. The mental wellbeing of your staff is, undoubtedly, under just as much strain as anyone else’s. There are ubiquitous documented reports of sudden onset depression, with an uncomfortably associated rise in suicide rates.

 

While it may be argued that this is not your concern or business for that matter, you would be on the precipice of a dangerous slope is not offering at least some assistance. Many companies offer group plans on counselling, done by remote video conferencing. Should that approach not be a fit for your company, at very least do offer information on depression and anxiety, as well as contact information for professionals who can help someone in a suicidal state of mind.

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